Sector News

Alexion scraps R&D programs, lays off staff after setbacks

March 14, 2017
Life sciences

Alexion Pharmaceuticals is set to lay off 7% of its staff and scrap some R&D programs to restructure its business following a tricky period.

The move sees the recently appointed interim CEO-CFO team stamp their mark on a biotech that is coming off the back of R&D setbacks and an internal probe into fraud allegations.

With Alexion having a 3,000-plus workforce at the last count, the restructuring, news of which was broken by Bloomberg and confirmed by Reuters, is set to cost approximately 200 people their jobs. Alexion is yet to say whether some units will bear the brunt of the company-wide restructuring, or disclose exactly where the ax will fall on its R&D programs. The company may provide more details when it discusses its first quarter results.

Alexion has been more forthcoming about the pipeline prospects it will focus its attention on after its has finished the restructuring. Talking to analysts at Barclays, Alexion picked out development of longer-acting anti-C5 antibody ALXN1210 in paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria and atypical hemolytic uremic syndrome (aHUS)—the indications in which Soliris is approved—and cancer asset samalizumab as two of its priorities. Alexion also remains focused on developing Soliris for use in neuromyelitis optica and myasthenia gravis.

Absent from the list is SBC-103, the drug Alexion acquired in its $8.4 billion takeover of Synageva. Alexion took an $85 million impairment charge against the candidate and revealed it isn’t planning any further studies around the turn of the year.

News of the setback to SBC-103 emerged in a period in which then-CEO David Hallal and CFO Vikas Sinha left and the company began an internal probe into fraud allegations. These issues, coupled to worries Soliris will one day cease to be a cash cow, have driven down Alexion’s stock by 10% over the past year.

“Given the recent management change and conservative guidance, we are not surprised that the company is planning on optimizing its workforce and reevaluating some R&D programs. In speaking with the company, this restructuring was planned and incorporated in 2017 guidance provided on the 4Q16 earnings call,” Barclays analyst Geoff Meacham, Ph.D., wrote in a note to investors.

By Nick Paul Taylor

Source: Fierce Biotech

comments closed

Related News

May 15, 2022

Novo Nordisk and Flagship Pioneering announce a strategic collaboration to create a portfolio of transformational medicines

Life sciences

The companies will explore opportunities to apply Flagship’s innovative bioplatforms – an ecosystem that currently comprises 41 companies – to scientific challenges in disease areas within cardiometabolic and rare diseases and initiate research programmes based on these.

May 15, 2022

BD, Babson set sights on bringing simple blood collection into the home

Life sciences

BD is expanding its long-running partnership with the blood collection company Babson Diagnostics. The two companies have been working together since 2019 on a device that can gather small volumes of blood from the capillaries in the fingertip without requiring any specialized training, and beginning with a focus on supporting primary care in retail settings.

May 15, 2022

CSL’s $11.7B Vifor buy, 2021’s biggest biopharma M&A deal, hits antitrust delay

Life sciences

Wednesday, Australian biotech CSL said (PDF) the regulatory review of its $11.7 billion acquisition of Switzerland’s Vifor Pharma will take “a few more months,” suggesting it won’t be able to close the transaction by June 2022 as previously expected.